About a month ago our church had a visiting worship leader and he said something that has resonated with me…and really was something I had been chewing on for awhile. He was talking about the passage in Matthew when Jesus talks about the wise and foolish builders. He stated that for pretty much his whole life he had focused on who he should be: the wise man. Christ= the Rock, the solid foundation…build your life on Him. And that’s great. Obviously, that’s what Jesus wants us to be, wise builders trusting in Him. But he said something stuck out to him recently…both the foolish and the wise man experienced storms. Jesus says “when the rain and the floods came…” for both. Just because the wise man built his house on the rock didn’t mean the storms went around him.
There are so many kinds of storms. The weather in Ohio is a lot different then the weather I was used to in SE Washington. I’m used to dry and dusty. Sure there was the occasional thunderstorm. They usually lasted about 10-15 minutes. I’m more accustomed to dust storms. Those can last for days.
Here in Ohio, we get thunderstorms. They kind of remind me of contractions. You hear the rumblings. Then the storm hits. Wind. Pounding rain. Hail. Then a lull in the storm. The wind dies down. The rain turns to drizzle. Then. More rumbling. The storm picks up again. This could go on for hours. I’ve never been one to be afraid of storms, I rather enjoy them. But sometimes, I’m confused by them. Or rather what they produce.
The first storm we experienced here in Ohio actually was a doozy (to me. Maybe not to Ohio/mid-west natives). I was in awe of the rain. I could hardly see the street it was coming down so hard. Once the storm passed I went out the front door and to my surprise I found this:
It confused me and honestly, it bothered me a little.
I love the picture of putting down deep roots into the Lord through reading His Word, building community with other disciples, and obedience to His Voice. So whenever I see uprooted trees, it upsets my neat little word picture. So I thought about this this uprooted tree…long after my husband cut it up and hauled it away.
After hearing the worship leaders little thought on the wise & foolish builders, I thought about the tree. I told the Lord “okay, I can’t stop thinking about this tree. Help me make sense of it. What does this mean for me? What can I learn from this?”
I realized I think of myself (and all disciples for that matter) as trees. I think that idea comes from the passage in Jeremiah that talks about the man who trusts in the Lord and compares him to a tree. But perhaps I need to think of my life (and other disciples) differently. Perhaps we are more like a homestead. Our foundation is solid, in Christ and because of His work in our lives, various trees that produce fruit are planted on our homestead. For me those “trees” would child rearing, being a helper to my husband, being a small group leader, being a friend, daughter, sister…you get the idea. But like any tree, if we don’t root them in Christ, or tend to the trees, they dry up. Rot. Die. In danger of being uprooted. A good caution to us all.
However, what I believe the Lord had for me in this situation wasn’t to tell me that I’m letting a tree die, or that something wasn’t rooted in Him…it was that sometimes He uproots the trees because new trees need to be planted, pruned, grown.
Back in Washington, I had attended the same church for almost 2 decades. My husband more then that. We had a lot invested in that body of believers. The roots we put down there went deep. When the time grew near for us to move to Ohio, I found one of the hardest things to leave was our church. I couldn’t make it through one worship song without crying. My heart literally ached at the prospect of leaving. Our process of finding a church in Ohio was prayerful, yet quick. The Lord directly us exactly where He wanted us. Where He wanted us to put down roots.
Churches are so different from one another, just as no family functions identically. Everyone has different facilities, terminology, schedules, even snacks & coffee vary from church to church. Obviously there are certain theological bents, but what we needed and were praying for, we found: a community of believers engaging one another to become more like Christ. People who seek to do life together and show the world Christ’s love. And yet, my heart was still tied, rooted to our previous church. Not that our new church did anything “wrong” and our previous church did everything “right”. (The body, after all, is made up of sinners saved by grace…none of us do church perfectly. ) again, I couldn’t make it through one service without crying. Often I didn’t even know why I was crying, it just came. I know I was grieving, but part of me didn’t want to. It’s hard to put down roots when your heart is somewhere else.
I started praying for The Lord to allow me to let go, to find me friends, and to find me places to serve. “Cast all your burdens on Him. For He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 Friends, I testify that this is true. He is faithful. He cares.
I believe this storm that uprooted our tree was His way of saying “Your time at that place is done. You learned a lot and it was good for you to be there; it’s where I wanted you for that time. But now it’s time for something else. And that’s what I want for you. Let go.” Through His work in my heart, I no longer ache for our previous church. I don’t say that lightly or as a slam to our previous church. They are a wonderful group of disciples following The Lord voice and reaching the world with the good news. And I still absolutely miss people, no doubt. But there was no way I could let go without the Lords help.
Moving to Ohio has been a storm in our lives to say the least. I expect He has uprooted trees that I haven’t even realized yet.
There are countless ways The Lord has encouraged our hearts that He is the One Who moved us here. I could talk at length how we’ve seen Him work in the past couple months. He’s changed our hearts about many things. I’m grateful for the storm. I’m forever grateful for His foundation that we can be firmly planted in Him. To God be the glory.
How about you? How has The Lord used storms to uproot and plant new things in your life? Have you seen storms as good things? I know in our culture it can be easy and somewhat tempting to avoid storms. We witness His power and Mighty Hand in the midst of the storm. Let the storms of life drive you to your knees…not only in prayer, but out of reverence for His awesome power to do more then we can fathom.
I realize the “expected” ending to this post would be a picture of a new little tree. The above is where the tree used to stand. God uprooted us and has something new in store for us. It won’t look anything like the last place He rooted us. It’s new. Fresh. And whatever He wants it to be. For that reason, I think the unexpected is the best way to end.